Good morning Ocean State. This is Bob Plain, editor and publisher of the RI Future blog podcasting to you from an undisclosed location this morning … but fear not, we will be back at the RI Future newsroom at the Shady Lea Mill in North Kingstown, Rhode Island later this morning. Or maybe this afternoon … we’ll see how the day goes…
It’s day 11 of Rhode Island boasting the lowest sales tax in the nation on art. Just as we were with tax free arts districts in 1996, as of December 1, we’re the first state in the nation to exempt art from sales taxes. If you’re one of those folks who think cutting taxes is good for the economy, then this is good news for you: according to data compiled by Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who championed this change, there are close to 10,000 independent artists in Rhode Island, and thousands more who work in the arts industry.
Another benefit to slashing taxes on art is it will benefit the tourism industry … the logic goes that if you’re spending a summer week at the beach you might pick Newport or Westerly over Provincetown or Bar Harbor if you can also save a couple hundred bucks on high end souvenirs…
Fundamentally, I don’t like carve-outs – and it seems so anti-American to see shortchanging the community as a positive move – but give me an artist over a stuffed suit any day of the week. If we’re going to incentive growth, this is the area to do it. Please check out my post on showing Congressman Jim Langevin around our artist colony in North Kingstown this weekend … we both, I think, had a blast…
The Humanists of Rhode Island, and RI Future cleanup hitter Steve Ahlquist, are killing it with their secular holiday banner honoring Roger Williams at the State House. The entire local media is giving them great ink, and the issue has gone viral all over the country. Ahlquist even said John DePetro emailed to congratulate him.
And speaking of DePetro … will today be day 10 in exile? Update: Yes!
The Providence Journal gives the Future blog, and specifically Sam Bell a nice shout out this morning … Bell, both a policy wonk and a numbers whiz, posted last week that he suspects Angel Taveras’ math is wrong on his cost estimates for universal pre-K. It’s pretty cool that the progressive movement is fact-checking itself, but full disclosure: I don’t think you’d be hearing about this story on this podcast if it didn’t come from a ally.
I thought reporter Phil Marcelo put an interesting twist on the often-cozy relationship between this blog and the Taveras administration. He wrote: “That’s what Samuel Bell, state coordinator for the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, considers in a recent post for RI Future, the liberal-leaning political website founded — but long since sold — by Taveras’ outgoing deputy city solicitor, Matthew Jerzyk.”
Congress ok’ed an imperfect at best budget deal yesterday. Said our own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of the compromise, “To be sure, this is not the deal any of us had hoped for. Republicans refused to end a single special tax deal or to maintain extended unemployment benefits, and allowed only partial relief from the devastating sequester cuts. That said, this deal will allow Congress to return to regular order and away from Tea Party brinksmanship, and allow appropriators like Jack Reed to pursue sensible priorities within this budget.”
The Washington Post reports this morning that charter schools have increased by 80 percent in five years, but that the average charter doesn’t perform any better than the average public school. Meanwhile, Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish education expert was at URI last night. Unlike America, Finland has some of the greatest public schools in the world in large part because that country strives to educate every child – the exact opposite of what the charter school movement does – and it trains students to be citizens rather than economic actors.